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Hi, I'm Molly John Fast and welcome to The Daily Beast, the new abnormal. I'm a left wing pundit and an editor at large at The Daily Beast. We're here to have fun, sharp conversations with some of the smartest people in media, politics and science that help make what's happening in the country and the world clear. Our world has been turned upside down on the new abnormal. We'll talk about the people who got us into this mess and figure out how we get ourselves out of it.
And I'm producer Jesse Kennen, and I'm here to make sure everything doesn't go too far off the rails while we have fun discussions about our world gone mad and why I took that dude seriously ourselves. Not so much. Say we have a jam packed episode with interviews with Senator Mark Warner, Tommy Marcus, a.k.a. the meme maker Quentin Tarantino and UK podcasts are in done. First up, we're going to have The Daily Beast Jay Michaelson on to talk about Merrick Garland, along with all the stuff that's happening in the Supreme Court today.
Hi, Jay Mendelsohn. Michael, Jesus Christ over chewing me up. Do you know how my ancestors paid for this name?
We have we have two Hebrews hosting the new abnormal today. That's we're going for a lot of extra diversity versus we need more trees and media. That's right. That's right. Are you from a reformed Jewish family, perhaps?
I grew up conservative. I was a nice Jewish boy.
See, I grew up Unitarian or God, my partners, Unitarian. We actually had a Unitarian wedding.
It's the best because it's not anything. It's whatever, you know. Good. You know what you get when you cross a Jehovah's Witness with a Unitarian, like someone who knocks on your door for no reason at all.
So let's talk about someone who's not feeling very unified. Today, the Supreme Court decided that Trump has to give his taxes to Cy Vance. That's right.
This was like the final nine or nine or nine or to Donald Trump's year long effort to conceal his tax returns. This was kind of it was a Hail Mary to begin with because the court decided last summer that he enjoys Trump enjoys no special protection. So this was just like if you or I had our tax returns subpoenaed and we went to the way to the Supreme Court and they would also dismiss us with an unsigned one sentence order.
Can you explain why what the timing of this was? Yeah, I mean, the mystery and, you know, it's kind of reading the tea leaves, we'll never really know. But the mystery is why it took them several months to reach this decision. It was pretty clear that Trump was going to lose. He had not really to stand on, you know, the word on the street as they might have been waiting for the impeachment drama to play itself out.
This has nothing to do with that. But it's possible that the court just felt like it could somehow affect the integrity of that process if it had integrity in the first place. So but the timing now should be immediate. I mean, this was the final appeal and Trump's lawyers will always come up with something. But there should be no reason why the grand jury won't get these financial records tomorrow.
But they should be able to just get them from the IRS. It's not like they have to wait and try to get them from Sechler, secular or someone, right?
No, that's right. He's out of the picture. Thankfully, actually, these are four financial documents that are Mazars, the accounting firm, including tax returns, but also and maybe even more importantly, a host of business documents. Basically, what we all know happened was Trump inflated the value of his business when it suited him, which is in order to get on the Forbes list and also to get loans from Deutsche Bank, which is maybe even more important.
And then he deflated that his his his worth in order to save on taxes. So that's illegal and the sets of documents won't match. So what he told Deutsche Bank is clearly a lie. And they gave him hundreds of millions of dollars of credit on the basis of that lie. So not only is that insurance fraud and bank fraud, but that could affect those loans. And now I just filed by a Daily Beast piece on this.
You know, this is like the new episode of the Trump reality show, really the new season. Sorry, this is like the season premiere. It's like now comes all of these petty humiliations. Right. So which bank has already kind of called in the credit? Basically, Trump doesn't have the money. It's not really clear where this amount of money is going to come from.
Can he borrow it from Jaric? Unfortunately, you know, he's also not the financial wizard that he makes himself out to be, Jerry.
But Gerard made two hundred trillion dollars last year. Don't fall for the guy.
I mean, he's cute, but he's not really that smart.
There's no way there is no world in which no one is going to let you say my whole pitch for this gig is that I'm the sassy gay friend. Like, that's what I have to offer in this interaction.
OK, I have a feeling just like the last time when you were our first guest, that we had to beep that there's some coming here. Wait, so tell me why Gerard isn't as rich as he tells us he is, so he does hold a lot of property, but the key with all of these kind of real estate companies and Kushner is just is one of these is basically leverage. I mean, you never really you never want to own more just property outright because you could be using that property to borrow money from your property.
So all of the major real estate companies, you know, Durst related, all of them are leveraged down, which means they've already basically used all of these buildings as collateral. So it's no different. I don't I don't know where Jared Kushner could come up with six hundred million dollars just from his back pocket, maybe by selling some of those assets. But again, they're not really meant to be sold because imagine if you had a million dollar mortgage on your million dollar house, you wouldn't come out with a lot of cash, right?
That makes sense. So now they get the taxes, Cy Vance gets them, and then he can put Donald Trump in jail forever and ever dream of.
No, not quite. First of all, just like, you know, temper expectations even more, we will probably never see these waste, is there?
I don't think they're going to leak. Well, they might leak, but grand jury is you know, it's not like the Trump White House, which is like constantly leaking all the time to Suyin and everything is working with maybe Swink can get the grand jury documents are meant to be sealed. They're meant to be totally secret. Know there are some cases where they do leak out at some point. Science is not like the kind of lawyer who just, like, leaks stuff through someone.
I'd be surprised if we actually do see most of this. And remember, from the tax returns point of view, we already got what the Times had last fall. So, you know, it is possible that some of this may leak out, but we shouldn't think like it's not going to be another time special section with all of these documents in it. Will he go to jail for like the rest of his life? Probably no. Is it possible that this would lead to criminal charges that would carry jail time?
I would say that's pretty likely. And we could have a grand jury indictment fairly soon.
So he could go to jail. Yeah, no, you know, you can't treat this badly all the time and avoid avoid jail time. I mean, some of it, you know, a lot of these kind of white collar crimes are basically settled and they're settled out for large financial settlements. You know, in this case, I'm not sure that Cy Vance is like interested in settling with Donald Trump, even if Donald Trump could afford the fines that he would have to pay, which I don't think he can wait.
So Trump really, because, you know, my husband is a big fan of Trump, is going to die in jail. And I always tell him that we in America don't jail our presidents no matter how sleazy they are. But you really think this is a possibility?
Well, I think it's useful to think that to notice that we were not jailing the president, were jailing a crook who lied on his taxes and his business forms and his insurance forms like we're Chaillot, we're jailing a criminal. So this is not connected, let's say, to the impeachment. It's not connected to any official connected to Russia. It's not affected, connected to anything connected to his job as president. This is old stuff from the Trump Organization lying all the time.
Can we talk about Pennsylvania, the great state, the Keystone State?
I think maybe one reason maybe I surprised you a little bit by being having having a little optimism around the legal process is I actually feel like the courts have done a pretty good job in during this assault on our democracy for the last four years.
And this is an example of it. So Trump lost 70 some odd election challenges, you know, and all of these were basically the same con, right? I mean, what's he doing with his taxes and his net worth? He's just lying about reality. He's saying reality is A, when it's actually B, he's going to go to CPAC, the CPAC conference on Sunday and say I'm the presumptive nominee for twenty twenty four. I'm in charge of the Republican Party.
These things may or may not be true, but certainly him saying it as a reality TV star doesn't make it so. But there is this thing called actual reality, and that's why I have a little bit of optimism both around whether it's the Supreme Court or now this grand jury process. So the same day, the Supreme Court said that Trump does have to turn over these financial records, they finally put like the 20th nail in the coffin of the of the challenges to the election lawsuits.
It was six three. These challenges were moot. Again, was sort of justice. Thomas didn't say that Trump should actually prevail in these challenges, just that there's actually still alive issue around how the judges in Pennsylvania kind of changed the election law.
I'm surprised Gore said, yeah, I am also surprised.
I'm not at all surprised about Thomas Thomas. It seems like he always takes the worst opinion.
You know, I am actually slightly sympathetic to the dissent in this particular case. So I'm not sympathetic because this case clearly the election is over. But it is true that we just left this major issue kind of dangling on the table, which the question was how these courts are interpreting the Pennsylvania Constitution and whether the way that they changed the law to account for the pandemic was the right way or not. I think it was. But I also think it was kind of a live.
Question, but the thing with the thing is, with courts, it has to be a live case or controversy and it's not the election is over. And this one, I think I don't think anyone thought that Trump is going to win. And he didn't. He lost seven to two, but it's still, again, yet another nail in the coffin of reality, kind of winning out over reality television.
Jay, we're lucky to be joined by you today because it's in the middle of Garland's confirmation. And you used to clerk for Merrick Garland. What have you been seeing today?
But we expected this this hearing to be mostly boring. And it mostly was. And I think that is going it a good way, especially after the shenanigans at the Senate over the impeachment period. There was a remarkable moment right at the very end responding to Senator Booker. Cory Booker kind of pushed Judge Garland a little bit on racial justice and criminal justice. And Judge Garland used to work at the Department of Justice. He's kind of come through the criminal justice system.
And I think there are some on the left who have a concern about that, that this is someone who's maybe too invested in modern policing or or mass incarceration, for example. So Senator Booker was kind of pushing him on that to really take more of a stand. And Judge Garland actually visibly his voice was shaking and and he told his own personal story about how his grandparents fleeing Nazi persecution came here and found a home here in this country, welcomed them in.
And it was, Judge Garland said, his own personal sense of responsibility, hoping to do the best job he could to honor that and to pay that back. And I think, you know, as speaking as a as a rabbi here, which is one of the other hats that I wear, you know, we've seen so much bad American criticism lately where it's just turned into, like waving the flag, whether it's the Israeli flag or whatever, and taking these kind of very hard core nationalistic, trumpy kind of points of view.
It was so refreshing to kind of see a public figure articulate the American Judaism that I actually love, which is that understanding the Jewish experience of marginalization, making us hopefully more sensitive toward other forms of oppression, including around racial justice. And it was just one of these really, you know, for me, a moving moment. And I had worked for for Judge Garland. He definitely showed more emotion in that two minutes than during the year that I clerked for him in D.C. You know, he's a very, very smart guy.
And it was hard to clerk for in a good way because some judges kind of just rubber stamp what you write as a clerk. But Judge Garland was never that way. He always read up at least as much on the cases as as the clerks did. And so he was known for being kind of meticulous and tough and in a good way, not not mean or anything, but just you really needed to know your stuff. So to see him show that other side, that kind of human side, I think made the confirmation hearing a little bit more real.
So a lot of people are concerned, though, how hard he will go on prosecuting the Capital Insurrectionists as somebody who worked under him. How do you feel about Troy, that when my boy.
Yeah, I think one of the notable things about Judge Garland's resume is that he's the guy who put away Timothy McVeigh. He led that investigation. So this is familiar territory for him. I did watch the hearing this morning. He was asked about that. The first question he was asked about and many senators asked him about that there were some Republican opportunists to say, well, what about Antifa? And don't forget them, too. And yeah, it was six three.
And what about Chuck Grassley? Do you go that now or talk from the sublime to the ridiculous? I mean, he literally said people are not aware of this little trivial moment. He literally said with Judge Garland sitting right there, yes, it's true. I never gave you a hearing, but at least I didn't go through your high school yearbook and make your wife leave your committee hearing in tears. Right. Referring to Democrats investigating a rape.
Right. But it's like they were just doing going through the yearbook just for the hell of it. Like there wasn't a rape allegation that they were it was this moment of supreme ridiculousness. And I at first, I was kind of impressed that Grassley even owned up to like it's true that I ruined your entire career and took away your dream job that you completely deserved and did so on a hypocrite like. That's true. But then to turn it around and say that what Democrats did with Kevin, what was worse was just appallingly hilarious.
He's kind of amazing.
I don't I don't know what's happened with Grassley, but my favorite Grassley is Grassley fighting with the History Channel when that's when you said his back.
I want more of that. Wait, I haven't I haven't followed that at all.
I see. My personal favorite is when he hits the animals with his car and tweets about it.
Well, there's also that. Well, he just I feel like a lot of these guys are the Republican, the sort of white old men, Republican senators are like trying out various ways of being odious, like you could do the Lindsey Graham one, where you just kind of slide it in there and say something so offensive and absurd that everyone's scratching their head.
Yes, I liked it when he was like, why haven't you been to the border? Merrick Garland.
I think you should go. Go to the border and you'll see drug cartels. I mean, I don't know, I guess he has decided that the caravans are like a big Fox News messaging point. And so he was going to bring them up in the hearing. But that was amazing.
I just love how the last four years haven't happened from that perspective. Like, we've just picked up exactly where we left off. Right, like migrant caravans, drug cartels. Well, now it's twenty, twenty one. And we're saying the same thing that we said in twenty sixteen, even though there's a pandemic and a coup that also just happened. It's this amazing. Like they haven't skipped a beat, basically.
I mean I've been actually really surprised at how well Biden's nominees have sailed through a lot with like pretty large, you know, a lot of Republican support. But it seems like the person who's just going to get the get the knife is going to be Neera Tanden.
Neera Tanden. Yeah, yeah. I mean, tweets.
But better watch out for your confirmation hearing, Bolly. Your chances are I'm sorry, but goddammit, you've sent a bunch of mean tweets. Could you what would you even like what would you even want me for? Like what could I even do? I guess I could be like ambassador to somewhere.
I was to say you'd make a lovely ambassador to the Vatican to replace the Gingrich's. So it seems we're going to have another impeachment trial, but this time a New York state over Governor Cuomo being a bully.
Is that possible? Can they impeach him over just sheer awfulness and also fudging the nursing home numbers?
Yeah, not the awfulness, but I mean over the fudging the nursing home number. Yeah, I mean, I, I don't know if that's going to happen, but it's certainly it is a legal possibility.
I love it when conservatives are like, do you think this is bad. But you love Andrew Cuomo and it's like progressives don't really like and also you could take de Blasio to.
It was probably a mistake for Cuomo to call up a state assembly person's wife and threaten her on the phone and yell. I mean, that's probably not a good call.
But, you know, that's that's what he does, what he did. And that is kind of the style. Yeah. It's a weird it'll be an interesting moment if the sort of covert denial wing of the Republican Party makes common cause with the progressive wing of the Democrat Party to get rid of the person who they dislike for very different reasons, they could happen, you know.
Well, who do Andrew Cuomo would be what makes horseshoe theory a real thing? It is that even so, they surely don't agree. I mean, it's true. The idea is that they sort of agree on something like Q and on agrees with like left wing hippies because they both think the government is bad or something right here. They don't even really agree. Right. Why they hate Cuomo, but everybody wants to hate Cuomo. So for different reasons, as you know, for me, I am a bit of a Cuomo contrarian.
As a New York resident, I kind of I kind of like the I don't know if it's like racist to Angela to analogize them to Mussolini because they're both Italian.
Let's just say he has a certain authoritarian streak. Mussolini is not should not be held up as a good guy. Yeah, I'll go ahead and I'll get the vaccine on time. So I find the trains are running on time. No, I think I think a lot of what's happening is, is sort of there's a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking, but this is a real thing. I mean, if they lied about the nursing home deaths and concealed that, they lied about the nursing home deaths.
Right. So it's like a cover up of a cover up.
You know, that's that's not pretty. Ian Dunn is a British author, political journalist, as well as the host of the remaining Yak's podcast. Hi, Ian.
Hello. Hello. What the fuck is wrong with your country? Well, that is a question that would take me a very, very long time to answer. And, you know, I mean, the truth is, it's basically sort of the same thing that's wrong with yours, which is that we got lost in a dream of borders, of like a politics that's basically about borders. And you can factor in trade in that. You can factor in immigration.
But ultimately, it came down to a hijacking by a nativist, reactionary political force that says everything is going to be all right if you just close all your fucking borders and pretend that the world is simple. Now, you guys have the rather considerable advantage right now of having turned away from that part to what you should look at us like.
We would like someone you used to date that is still taking heroin. I'm so fucking glad I left that shit behind, because that's where we are right now.
I keep reading all of these reports about your coronavirus staff. What is going on? Like why can't you get it under control like we did in Florida?
Just kidding, because it's a wonderful example since we've only killed half a million people.
Whereas you people I think that this comes down to a couple of things. I mean, the most important one is we have spent the last five years, basically since the Brexit vote, denigrating expertise. And experts don't matter. They have nothing to contribute. What really matters is this thing, the will of the people, which is basically whatever the person in charge happens to think or whatever is useful for them to say on that particular day. Now, once you do that, you create a political culture where when you have a scientific adviser saying you need to look down right now or because of exponential growth, we are going to see more deaths.
You have political leaders that ignore them. Now, Boris Johnson, the prime minister, has not been as ignorant uncovered as you wouldn't like it, but he has done is allow himself to get kind of triangulated between public health goes on the one hand and the ones that want to ignore the evidence on the other. And what that means is for each moment, each of the three lockdown's every other piece of public health policy, he implements it between two to six weeks too late.
And those weeks are the crucial fucking weeks where the virus just explodes in the population. And that's why we are where we are right now.
Yeah, that was what I was wondering, because you see a lot of reporting that you guys have a lockdown going, oh, yeah, man, we've been locked down.
I mean, I haven't seen another human being apart from the woman that shows me in the supermarket for months now and the missus, obviously, but the missus and I can barely even see each other at this stage. We're like, wound's one of them. Yeah, it is. It is amazing being married to someone during lockdown. It is. Now, where are you guys with that? They started vaccinating everyone in England. Right. But they're not they don't have enough for two shots.
Well, yeah, they made a point on that which moment seems like the right one, which is that you'd be better off giving the first shot to more people than giving two shots to a smaller group of people. Now, when they made that call, the scientists that I was speaking to, a pretty divided on which way they would go on that. And it looks at the moment that they probably made the right call. And now, of all the things that the right to criticize the government for the vaccine rollout so far isn't one of them.
I think a lot of that comes down to the NHS is a highly centralized health system, is actually very good at exactly this kind of thing. So the rollout of the vaccines at the moment is working very, very well. That is the only and I mean it literally it is the only area of policy that these guys have fucked up.
But thank God, thank God. But you have this more contagious variant. Yeah, we do. I mean, we're also getting sort of others coming South African variant, which potentially really quite concerning because it may not respond to the vaccines, may not respond to it in the same way. I mean, I think I could I mean, I got covid man, and this is both got covid last month. And we assume because most of the country at that stage was getting the more contagious variant and it was that much more contagious.
It has the massive plus point of it very rarely takes away people's sense of taste or smell like, you know what I didn't even care about. You know, it was one of those things you heard about that I didn't really think about very much until I got covid. And then when we do get covid, do you think what? I can't go out. I can't see my friends or my family. I can't go to a pub, a restaurant.
The one thing I have is evening meals with wine.
And the idea of losing even Nejat just felt like God was being particularly vindictive like that when the covid started.
And then we'll talk about Brexit. But I just, you know, I'm like a very neurotic Jew, so I'm obsessed. I mean, I am I'm not like I'm a very neurotic Jew. Jessie knows this about me. And so I'm obsessed with this idea. I have a friend who's very who's who lives in the UK and she was telling me that her mother is very fancy and has this doctor. And the doctor sent them a letter that said, if you're over a certain age, no one will treat you in the hospital.
You shouldn't even bother going. And if you're you know, it was like over sixty five and you. I have a preexisting condition, you're not going to get treatment and, you know, there was a whole sort of a menu of like how you could get not get treatment in the hospital. Is that still true there?
No, that's not true. And one of the things that they really found was we're getting a proper backlog right now of non covid related health problems that haven't been dealt with. So, I mean, the real the real death toll of this thing, we're not going to know for years. Right. It's about how many people that didn't go get something in their lungs and haven't gone to get it checked. How many people aren't getting treated for diabetes or heart conditions?
Right. Right. That's the real long death toll of this thing. And they from the first shot down to to the second, that was much, much improved. Lots of messages from the NHS saying if you've got symptoms of something noncombat related, you go into hospital, don't be put off, blah, blah, blah. So I know that they've been much better on that the second time around.
OK, so now let's talk about Brexit. I was talking to my husband this morning who could be quite annoying but is very smart. And he was saying that he thought that it's almost like Britain had put sanctions on itself.
Yeah, that's a very good. I might steal that. It's yours, baby. Again, I'm thinking that I'm taking that. That's basically true. Let me explain how it's true. But talking like really briefly about how the EU started about it. Yes. Right.
So what you get to the end of the Second World War and the Europeans are just looking at each other like the I mean, we've done this twice now and we keep on nearly destroying the world. So we need to come up with a system for not doing this again.
And the system that they came up with was exactly the opposite of what they did after the First World War, First World War and then France. Other countries just basically stripped Germany four parts, including the coal industry. It's dangerous when you get to the Second World War where they say, we're not sure what we're going to do is we're going to meld coal and steel industries together across the continent. And that's like an old liberal ideal that you see, for instance, in Paine's writing during the American Revolution, that trade is the defence against war.
You can get countries to trade with another that much less. You go to war in the case, if you can just major economies to go. The way the Europeans have done this is by two things. One of them is the customs union, which takes tariffs, which sort of taxes on goods when they go over borders and harmonises them on the outside and eradicates them on the inside. So if you're the US, you send the banana to Italy, it's 10 percent.
You send it to France, it's ten steps and wherever you go. But between France and Italy, they pay zero percent on anything. There's no checks on any of those goods. Everything moves as if it was one country. The second part is the single market. Single market is basically the most sophisticated act of cooperation between nation states in the history of man. It is regulating in a way, for each country. So it doesn't have to keep on checking goods coming into its territories, essentially saying if we do this kind of safety check for electrical equipment and cars in Germany will have the same rule in France and that allows goods to just move around as they like.
It also means that Europe could introduce the idea of free movement, which is that you can go and live and stay and work wherever you want on this continent, as long as you're a citizen of the continent, which is, I think, a degree of liberal accomplishment that stands up there with human rights law for the sort of Second World War period. Now, Britain's decision was, fuck that, don't want anything else to do with this thing. So we're just going to pull out basically because it got upset that there were so many Polish plumbers coming over.
I mean, really at the heart of it was just like what turns out, we don't like Polish plumbers. Fuck knows what Polish presidents have ever done to the Brits, but they've decided to get a growing economy to keep them out and the out.
And what that means is you now do get checks at the border going into Europe for your tariffs. You do get it for the regulatory quality of the goods. And Britain's economy for the last 40 years was based on the fact that that would not happen.
The goods could move very, very freely for Just-In-Time production processes wherever they like to on the continent. So sanctions on itself is precisely what Britain has chosen to do once again, because that apparently was the only way that it could stop Polish problem coming out.
And there is no way out of this now. Right.
I'm of the belief that in about 15 years, if we're smart about it, if liberals and internationalists remain as a smart about what they do, we can get back in. You will never talk to anyone sensible. It's going to give you a shorter time scale than fifteen years. That's where we are. Right? This is it. Right. I used to sit with you in the last five years like American journalists, when they're in London, it's it and you basically drown your sorrows together.
You know, they talk about Trump and I talk about Brexit and I was like, there's a blah, blah, blah. But each time in those conversations, I was like, the thing is, I know that Trump is worse than Brexit and I mean that he was worse than any single politician I can think of in Britain, including Nigel Farage, who is basically like an angry in human form. He's worse than Nigel is.
He is. I think he is more pernicious. I think he's more explicitly racist. Yeah. He's more dangerous and also more the he's he was a worse. You mean I mean, believe me, what I've just said is the nicest thing I've ever said about Nigel Farage, which is that he's not really the worst.
Being honest, he was terrible, but what I'm saying was, look, no matter how bad it looks for you right now, at least you can change this in relatively quick order. I know there's level of political toxicity that remains, but you can change what Brexit is, is Trump ism. But you're fucking with the engine room of a country, with the structural integrity of the company, with its diplomatic status, with its political status, with its trading networks, with its economic framework.
You are you are really mucking around with the spine of the place, the spine of the state. So this stuff, it will get much, much worse before it gets better. And it's going to take a long time before we can put it right. Yeah, sorry, I can't do that.
I hope you can bring me on here to make it about things. We're not going through it. That's the most like.
I mean, what does the UK think of us? It's a really complicated question.
I feel like I spent a lot of time in the UK when I was young and they always thought we were just sort of dumb.
No, no, no, no, no, no. There's no, that's that's that's just half of it. Right. Remember, this is Britain's attitude towards everyone is a mixture of arrogance and insecurity. You know, we're like that guy in you in high school, you know what I mean? Like, he was just he acted really arrogant, but in fact, he was just deeply, tragically insecure and did not want it. And that's basically national personality.
Fuck me. I hope no one in this country hears the shit.
I'm saying objectively, this is true.
This is and this is mostly how we look at all other countries, apart from Sweden for some reason, who we think fucking perfect, God knows why. And so that is the attitude to the Americans.
And we are simultaneously kind of repost and tremendously aroused by America. Right. So in terms of the repulsing, the classic sort of stuff like, you know, for anyone even in the centre, and this would left British politics, you know, around capital punishment, school shootings or the abortion debate.
And we were just awful. I don't know how you like us, but going on that stuff is shocking, too.
And you're constantly reminded of like you think the Americans are like us. And then you just you get usually around religion or abortion and you're like, oh, fuck me. You know, that is fucking mad. I don't know how. And but they AR 15s. Yeah.
It comes almost every day.
And, you know, you feel it as a Brit when you're in America right now, I feel you feel similar, but then you just, you know, even to us, like the first thing you see when you get to the US is the great immigration. But they have a gun. And that to us is this first moment of like, what the why the fuck? What's this guy going to say if my papers are wrong? But why would he have a gun?
It's just this insane things. But the flipside is, you know, we're fucking fascinated. Even now, people are arguably more fascinated than ever by Trump, but they were as well by Obama. And they have mostly watched the West Wing, you know, so they still have within them. That kind of idealism that America has about itself is also part and parcel of how other countries think about America to all of that stuff is wrapped up inside of it.
So it's definitely not just that the Brits think the Americans are dumb. They do often think that. But then also they kind of want to be them.
It's very baffling to, you know, what the schedule is for vaccinations in the UK.
Oh, yeah, we're cracking on, man. I mean, I really I mean, I just got a message from a friend of mine who's forty five, and she just got a message to say that she's lined up for it.
You know, they are really cracking on with this now. So on the vaccine front, we're looking pretty good. I mean the concern is the nutters in parliament. So there's a group called the covid Research Group, group of MPs who modeled themselves after the European Research Group, which is a group of Brexit. And basically what this means is whatever they say, whatever word they put before the word research is the subject.
They're not doing any fucking etc. These are the anti lock down guys, right straight into a kind of covid denialism. And it's like a.. It's lookdown skepticism on the shop window. But when you go into the shop that, you know, behind the counter, there's a bit of covid denialism being churned out as well.
This is like Toby Young. Yeah. Oh, yeah. I'm so sorry that you know who that is.
Then can you explain to our listeners who that is yet? There was a film made of him, How to lose friends and alienate. We used to be the party. Yeah.
He was sort of a socialite. He lived in New York in the nineties. That's how I knew him. Right. And he wrote a good book.
I liked the book actually, of going over to New York and basically not making any friends and alienating lots of people.
Yeah, well exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Which is probably the experience of more people than they get to. You know, he's been progress. I mean, I haven't agreed with him for a very long time. What I wasn't expecting was the degree of deterioration that we saw, the period of time to harness this this constant attempt to undermine any kind of public health strategy, which is just a I mean, as a journalist, first and foremost, it is objectively, folks, by the information that you're putting out is objectively false.
And but also it is, frankly, catastrophically fucking immoral. And yet there is a. These are fucking industry of this stuff, and it's not just columnists today, the Daily Mail very widely read, very well read in government. Right wing tabloid was putting on this thing saying you've got to open up now. You know, we've got a vaccine, so why don't we open up? And this is just punishing you fucking stupid. Because the truth is, Britain does another two months of lockdown probably.
But, you know, you could open up the schools, but keep the rest of the lockdown in place. We can we can have the rest of the year will be largely free. But if we end this thing now when the cases are going down, but the IRA is still not below one, that is not what is going to happen. So you just look at it and it's almost like the covid Research Group basically saying, you know what, if we're really quick about it, we can fit in just a fourth wave of covid before the whole pandemic is.
If this is so horrible, it is interesting that you guys are worse off than we are because I always thought we'd ultimately be worse off than you were. So congratulations.
Thank you very much. That's a very caring thought from the day I do.
You know, I always think like other people I know, we're British, very, very smart, and they're very educated and they're they're very cultured. And they and but, man, you guys really should.
But remember, we decided we didn't want to be that. So, you know, expertise and doing things properly and all of that that all went out the window. You can't you know, the weaving is talking about the computer science without talking about the Brexit response is really fucking difficult because it's all the same cultural shift in Britain, which is kind of populist idea. I mean, this was you know, I remember a few years ago, I would laugh at the notion that someone like Boris Johnson would ever become prime minister.
So come on. And this is a serious country. You know, we're not a fucking clown car like a guy like this can't even dress himself literally how many children he has in charge and doesn't he know but won't say?
Well, yeah, well, there's two theories, right? One of them is, you know, someone saying the other one, he just doesn't even fucking know.
I mean, that is an amazing thing that you have a prime minister that cannot answer the question or will not answer the question. How many children do you have?
Yeah, you know, the only good thing that might come out of Boris Johnson's administration is because the right love him.
Right? So the right would just stick with whatever the fuck he does.
And because of that, what we've got is this sort of Flandreau, but he's someone with a girlfriend. He is not married to the woman that they've had a child now. So actually, hopefully, if one good thing can come out of this, it's that that kind of tedious, old fashioned, moralistic bullshit about you expect them to be married.
You know, you expect this to point for conservative to family, nuclear unit actually might have dissipated and we've become a little bit more French, hopefully not to the full extent of everyone on all the time, but know some of the time there's just a more relaxed attitude towards this is like how I always said I wanted an atheist president in America, that I got Donald Trump.
I'm going to, you know, get more like the Bible is. His Sequoia's is his second favorite book after. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
I mean, I don't think it's true that he wanted to be sworn in on Art of the Deal.
But hey, folks, if you haven't heard, every single week we do a special bonus episode for Beast Inside The Daily Beast membership program. Sometimes we interview senators like Cory Booker or the folks who explain what's happening behind the scenes in media, like Jim Acosta or Soledad O'Brien. Sometimes we just have fun to talk to our favorite comedians and actors like Busy Philipps or Billy Eichner. And sometimes we just have friends around to analyze what's happening in the news. You can get all of our episodes in your favorite podcast app of choice by becoming a beast inside member or you'll support the Beast fearless journalism, as well as getting full access to podcasts and articles to become a member head to the new abnormal DOT, The Daily Beast dot com.
That's new abnormal at The Daily Beast Dotcom. Senator Mark Warner is the senior senator from Virginia and joining us today for the interview, as well as The Daily Beast, Spencer Ackerman.
Hi, Senator Warner. Hey, Molly. How are you? I'm good. Thank you for joining us today. My pleasure. Very exciting. So I want to talk to you about 230. What is going on with 230 and why?
We remember Section 230 was passed way back in the late 90s when there really wasn't any kind of social media. It was at the very beginnings of the Internet. And I was an old telecom guys in many ways. We kind of took the ideas around protecting telecom networks from being responsible for the content and put that kind of protection in place for these new message boards. And this these new companies that were beginning to pop up like YouTube and AOL and Twitter.
And I think for a while it made a great deal of sense. But now we're twenty two years. Twenty three years later in sixty five percent of Americans get some or all their news off of just Facebook and Google and the idea that they bear no responsibility at all for anything that happens on their websites, particularly since they manipulate through the use of algorithms. A whole lot of this content. They are clearly curated but curated to, you know, if you are on the left pushing further left of the you're on the right pushing for the right.
And they've ended up being U.S. Section 230, not only to protect things like political content, but there was this wild case around the platform grinder where some guy met a guy on Grindr. They went out, they broke up, and then that spurned lover basically took on a false identity and said he was the other person and invited all kinds of people to come and harass his spurned lover. And the poor guy's wife turned a living hell as he got harassed at his apartment, harassed at work.
And he tried to get Grindr to take down the other, take down this content and Grindr, U.S. troops are needed to protect itself. So it was just section 230 is evolved into this thing that I don't think any of us anticipated. And so there's a bunch of different ideas, including an idea I have about how we might put some guardrails around.
But isn't there a danger there that like I mean, it just feels like there's no nobody totally understands, like, are you for the idea of it being a publishing platform or.
No, I'm not as far as saying we ought to call Facebook or YouTube or Twitter The New York Times or Fox News. I don't think we should get rid of all the protections. And I also think sometimes people get confused. There are First Amendment rights and I want to protect those First Amendment rights. You've got a right to say stupid stuff, but does that right mean you can also have a right to have your stupid comments amplified five billion times?
I think that's a more of an open question. So what I did working with Mazie Hirono and Amy Klobuchar was we really spent a lot of time saying, let's protect First Amendment rights, but let's clarify that Section 230 doesn't give you protections from some other basic laws that are already on the books. And we've already made some exceptions to Section 230. You can't do child pornography. You can't do sex trafficking. You can't do bomb making. So we said on our Section 230 reform, let's still grant individual users First Amendment rights.
But Facebook and YouTube and and Twitter shouldn't have their section two thirty First Amendment protections go to advertising. If the advertising is inherently unfair, lying and misrepresenting, you shouldn't be able to hide behind section 230. Number one, we said you shouldn't section 230 protections shouldn't take away the ability to enforce civil rights laws. So if you're promoting discriminatory behavior that ought to be able to still be enforced through existing civil rights laws, you should be able to get injunctive relief.
If you can prove to such a higher standard that going back to, for example, of the Grinder case, that somebody is personally harassing you on these platforms and you can get a court order to prohibit that harassment that shouldn't be protected by Section 230. And we've also said that if you are in this kind of trap, if you are can prove in a court again that you're causing bodily harm to an individual the way in Burma, the government was using Facebook to incite violence, violence against the Rohingya, you ought to be able to have that law enforced.
So I think we've got to a more moderate, nuanced position. But I know that that some of the defenders of the status quo have been. Pretty upset with our proposal, but I think that's a healthy debate. I wanted to ask about the fallout to January 6th. There's a big debate underway about whether the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, require a new domestic terrorism powers, in particular, something the akin of the Patriot Act in domestically to both list domestic terrorist groups and therefore create prohibitions against material that is financial and other support of them.
Where do you stand on that?
Well, first of all, I think the rise of anti-government extremists has been going on in this country for the last couple of years. And I think the FBI and others have recognized that. But what the previous White House basically didn't want that emphasis to be made that public. And I think that's a real a real problem. I'm not sure what new tools need to be used to make sure people have got a right to protest. They've got a right to, again, not have their basic freedoms impinged upon.
And I don't I'm not sure what new tools ought to be used yet. That's why I'm taking the Intelligence Committee and we're going to do a deep dive on this anti-government extremism and particularly some some of these groups. They're ties to right wing groups and in Europe, oftentimes amplified by Russia. So I got to sort through this and figure this out as well. I know the threat is real. I know it's not just in this country. If you look you know, if you look at countries like Hungary and Poland, you've seen the anti-government extremists become the government and become very anti-democratic.
Part of the problem may be just solved within our existing tools if the FBI and other government agencies can actually continue to help educate the public and elected leaders are willing to acknowledge that this threat exists. The previous administrations just didn't want to hear this stuff. Sure.
Or the FBI or any of your other security sector interlocutors actually asking Congress for new authorities? Because I haven't seen that happen yet. I don't think they've asked yet. I think we're so much at just the early stages. How did this happen? How extensive are these networks? What else are they working on? And there is some interconnection, obviously, between essentially what you're talking about here and what we talked about in terms of the social media platforms, because a lot of this organizing is obviously going on on the Web and on these platforms.
And I'm glad you mentioned the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation on this. I imagine it's been sort of too short a time period for you guys to have come to any initial investigative findings. Is that the case or are you starting to see something? Do you have cooperation from anyone you might have interviewed already, or is this all premature at this point?
It's way premature. One of the things I want to try to do is, again, I'm really proud of our Senate Intel committee. We've been bipartisan. We state bipartisan, the whole Russia investigation. And part of the first step here is to kind of sit down with members on both sides and really scope the problem and scope the problem in a way that this is not just an attempt to kind of go after the Magga universe or this is not an attempt to simply take on the Donald Trump crowd.
This is a much bigger, graver threat. And if we can all get on and most of us get on the same page about the nature of the threat, and then I think we can ask those kind of questions that you're asking, but we're not there yet.
Do you think you can get there? You did mention how bipartisan the committee was able to operate during the Russia investigation, which must have been a really Herculean effort. But this seems something more incendiary, given that this was an insurrection by the president's supporters, cheered on by some of your colleagues. Do you think you can actually keep this as a bipartisan investigation? And are you worried that in keeping it as a bipartisan investigation, you jeopardize the scope of what you're trying to find out?
Well, I'm going to do my damnedest because I really think the seal of approval we can put on something that it's bipartisan. I think we claimed at times that we're the last functioning bipartisan committee on the Hill and that's a low bar to get over. So it's I don't want to lose that moniker. And I think there is some value that we bring to this because some of the sessions that we'll have will be behind closed doors. There will be our intelligence community coming in and briefing us, and that decreases the amount of political posturing.
And if we can kind of come to some common agreement, hey, this is a real problem. It's not just a real problem in this country. It's a real problem happening around Western democracies everywhere. How do we get our hands around it? I think we've got a much better shot of of coming to coming to those bipartisan conclusions. But I got no idea how long this is going to take. And we're still at at the stages of trying to get oftentimes academic expertise, because there's there has been some expertise, obviously, within the FBI.
But I do think under the Trump administration. These efforts were a little bit undermined. I mean, it just was not in this way, as I said a couple of times when we used to still have the alert, the intelligence threat assessment, he raised this point about anti government extremists. But that last White House didn't want to hear those stories.
Have you seen stuff that we, the public, haven't seen that you feel should be released? Not yet.
I expect that I will, because I am I'm still not just be the starting stages, but even with the rush stuff you.
Have you seen. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
Oh, yes, of course. With the Russia stuff, we have seen things that haven't been fully declassified yet. I'd love to still see declassified, but we didn't get as much attention on some of the volumes that we released when we we showed with great detail the manipulation on social media. We showed with great detail all the different ways that Russia took selected information that they'd hacked into and released during the midst of the twenty sixteen campaign. You know, we were obviously this was the hottest topic, the first couple of years of the Trump administration.
I think the public had kind of moved on by the time we got our final reports out. But I think history will treat our five volumes as the most far more than the most definitive statements on what Russia's goals were and how they basically screwed with us in major ways back in 2016 and beyond. Thank you so much. Thank you, guys. Sorry I was late. Let's do it again sometime. We can go longer.
Tommy Marcus, a.k.a. Quentin Tarantino, is a meme maker who just raised one point one million dollars for Planned Parenthood as a reaction to Rush Limbaugh's death. And today he's going to tell us the story around that.
So I don't often have relatives on the show, but I'm pretty excited to have you on the show. Tommy, can you explain who you are, who your other personality is?
What my other personality be, Quentin Tarantino or Tommy Marcus? Yes.
Tell us about your art, your Instagram personality.
OK, so I started this Instagram page, Quentin Tarantino, the first day that everything shut down in New York, which I believe was March 13th. Twenty twenty. I can't believe we're coming up on a year on that now. But it started off as as kind of a humorous account of just staying at home while we all thought that the pandemic was going to to last a month. And there was just really kind of a lighthearted jokes page about how I was feeding myself off of can Chef Boyardee and not leaving my apartment and wearing sweatpants and stuff.
And then, you know, as as time went on, things got a lot more political as it as it related to the pandemic. And slowly, I, I morphed the account into a political account where, yeah, it's it's been this crazy journey where I really didn't know what I was getting into when I started the page. I've always been an incredibly political person. I almost said religious, but it's been really incredible to kind of use my platform to really confront misinformation and turn negativity into humor.
And I guess with my latest on kind of I've been kind of calling it trolling for good, I think that I really have hit a sweet spot in which I'm not, you know, spewing the same polarizing hate as the other side. I'm really I'm really trying to bring people together who follow me and kind of combine on a on a mission to really just first make people who might not be aware of things, aware of it, but then also make them laugh and make their days better.
And I think I've found a really good blend of that over over time.
So let's talk about what you've done, which is pretty exciting. You start at a fundraiser in the name of Rush Limbaugh and the money went to Planned Parenthood. And you raised a million dollars.
Yeah, as as as of the time that we're speaking, it's a I believe, one point one seven million dollars for forty five thousand donors. And I'm still trying to process everything that's happened because I set off with a ten thousand dollar goal. And the whole fundraising aspect on Instagram is a brand new feature that I had just noticed. The original joke was just that I had donated one hundred dollars to Planned Parenthood on their website. And when I was going to post it on Instagram, I saw this brand new feature called Fundraising on Posts.
And I was like, All right, why not? Let's let's add a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood said a ten thousand dollar goal. It would be so funny if I was able to somehow raise ten thousand dollars for Planned Parenthood. In spite of Rush Limbaugh and, you know, 10 minutes in, it was at fifteen hundred dollars and I was starting to realize like, whoa, this might have potential for a lot more than ten thousand dollars. And now we're sitting here talking and it's over one point one million dollars and still going.
It's really been crazy. I the amount of money and I guess the actual impact that this money is going to have is still something that I'm, I guess, trying to wrap my brain around because it's just such an insane thing to think about that what started off as kind of a joke has turned into such a positive and almost unifying thing based on the messages that I've received from followers, really heartfelt messages about how this fundraiser is really kind of boosted their past week.
And then it's been what they've been looking forward to and constantly checking the numbers and all of this stuff. And it's just it's it's really just unbelievable to me that everything has happened so fast. We hit a million dollars in three days. And, yeah, I'm just I'm still kind of in shock. And it's just been it's been a really beautiful thing to to be a part of. There's forty five thousand people as of right now who have donated to this.
And that's that's just an unbelievable amount of people that the average donation is somewhere around twenty four dollars. And we have been able to raise over a million dollars for Planned Parenthood, which which I would say is probably one of the most necessary and specifically most unfairly politicized and and unfairly demonized organizations in this country. So, yeah, it's just been absolutely crazy.
Is it OK to speak ill of the dead?
That is a great question, Molly. And I don't know. I mean, is a really interesting question. You know, I'm not sure where I come down on it.
When I first got the notification that Rush died, you know, Rush Limbaugh has always been a person that I kind of had in my mind as as one of, I guess, the worst people in America. He's just spent three decades really in my mind.
I think he's really, in my mind, kind of brainwashed an entire generation and really spent decades spewing hatred out onto the airwaves, whether it be antifeminist or your first feminists as feminazi is or is is making fun of deceased AIDS victims and then is and and people of color. And and there's really just no marginalized community that you could pick that Rush Limbaugh didn't spend a significant amount of his time insulting, degrading and brainwashing people about against.
Yeah, no, I agree.
So to answer your question, it kind of started off as me joking about a dead man. Absolutely. Yeah. You know, some people were saying, like, I usually love your stuff, but this is a little far. You just think of his family, etc.. But, you know, when you have such a public figure who in my mind really kind of is one of the main catalysts for Trump's America, I really I really think that I really think that he has had such a such a major role in building up America into what it became in 2016 when Donald Trump was elected, that I didn't feel bad at all, kind of making fun of the fact that he had died.
And and with the fundraiser, I was kind of able to turn the hatred and the, you know, the kind of objectively negative thing of laughing at someone who just died into something that was actually productive and something I guess I would say intensely good, you know?
Yeah, no, I agree. I mean, you know, it is the question that we all must ask all the time. You know, I don't have an opinion of it, but I definitely think that there are a few people have really been as horrible and bad for the world as Rush Limbaugh, which, of course, is why Trump celebrates.
Hi, Jesse. Can. Hi, Molly. So today we have a extra special themed edition of Fuck That Guy.
So if people do not follow you on Instagram, they may still know that you have the most adorable rescue Piper. You'll notice. And they definitely do not know that I have a rescue pup, Violet, that I'm an uncle to. That is the light of my life.
Yes. Jesse and I are committed dog owners and I actually have three dogs, Spartacists, Cerberus and Rescue Puppy Leonidas.
But you know, the most disgusting thing always with. These Trump people is that nothing is out of bounds of the culture war and somehow Newsmax is Greg Kelly found a way to insult Joe Biden's totally cute rescue pup, right?
That's right. Joe Biden has one rescue dog, one breeder dog, and they're both German shepherds. And Greg, cowey you may know him as sort of he's like a kind of Sean Hannity wannabe. News for Newsmax is Sean Hannity without the hair. He had deemed this rescue dog not rescue enough because he was from a non kill shelter and, you know, only dogs from kill shelters as rescue dogs. That's not true. That's completely nuts. And that he was also not that cute.
And what he had done to the standards of the White House, apparently, I mean, I would note that the last president did not have a dog.
What I would also note is that dog is adorable. Every time I see it, it puts a smile on my face.
Yes. It's a very adorable dog. And also it's a fucking dog. Yes.
That is the real thing, is that, you know, it'd be really nice to have there be some boundaries. But we also want to take this to another place, which is, fuck you, Ted Cruz, for leaving Snowflake all load while you wait to get CWD.
Well, we don't know what happened with Ted Cruz because we don't know because that security guard said he was taking care of Snowflake, the tiny white poodle who was photographed standing in front of the open door in the Cruz house, not open, but in front of a sort of glass paned door. And in that case, because I just that maybe I'll rephrase my fuck that guy for Ted Cruz. Right. That's what I'll say is fuck you for day bigots, Snowflake, because, you know, all day he's asking Snowflake if it's triggered that he's not giving it treats and things like that.
So just fuck him for that.
On that note, we'll wrap this up as sort of the new abnormal from The Daily Beast and future episodes. We'll be talking to smart folks from The Daily Beast and beyond, from media, culture, politics and science will help us understand what's happening to our country and the world. We hope you'll subscribe to us on your favorite podcast app and share the show on social media. Thanks so much for listening and we'll see you again on the next episode.